The Chinese and South/East Asian communities make a tremendous contribution to the Lancaster District and we are joined each year by hundreds of students at our universities. We are immensely proud of the diversity and life they bring to our community and welcome the visibility this gives Lancaster around the world.
We are therefore concerned and saddened to hear of isolated incidents of verbal abuse directed towards some Chinese and South/East Asian people in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. We would like to make it clear that we do not believe that racism or discrimination belong in the region which has a proud history of inclusion and tolerance.
We know that the vast majority of people in the Lancaster region are standing in solidarity with their Chinese and South/East Asian neighbours. This is a worrying time for all, but particularly so for people from China and those of Chinese heritage who will be worried about friends and relations back home. At this difficult time our support is more important than ever before.
The Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, Professor Steve Bradley, said: ‘I have made it clear to our students that if they are subject to any form of racism or discrimination, they must report it immediately and we will take action. It’s very important at this difficult time that they feel they have our support and understanding.’
Sam Moi Chan, Chair of the Hua Xian Chinese Society, said: ‘The Chinese and East-Asian community have witnessed an increase in incidents of discrimination and racism following the outbreak of Coronavirus which we strongly condemn. We have reached out to provide support for people affected by abuse and isolation – from children in schools, students, residents and businesses - and appeal to the wider community for greater understanding and solidarity at this difficult time.’
Stanley Henig. Chair of Lancaster District Communities Together, said: ‘The Lancaster District is home to many different Communities – ethnic, religious and others. The Lancaster District Communities Together Group meets regularly as a forum for sharing our experiences, discussing any problems and, on occasion, sharing special events and festivities. For some Lancaster is a permanent residence; others, particularly University students, are here for a shorter time. But for everybody the Lancaster District is where we live and work. The Communities Together Group is aware of some incidents arising from current health issues in China and the Far East. The Group gives its full support to those who are affected.’
Councillor Dr Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: ‘Our district is stronger for being a diverse and tolerant community. I am deeply concerned to hear that any residents has been subject to racist abuse, and condemn this behaviour. At a time when people are worried about friends and family, it is important that we show our support for those members of our community, and our concern for everyone infected and affected, particularly communities in China and South East Asia where the greatest impacts are being felt.’
University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell said: ‘Our student, staff and communities are at the heart of our university and particularly during times of challenge it is important we stand as one to help and support each other.’
Xiaohai "Tom" Wu, President of Lancaster University Chinese Students and Scholars Association (LUCSSA), said: ‘We want to express our sincere and heartfelt appreciation to the Lancaster City Council and the universities for their concerted efforts and support to our community. We hope in this particular time we can stay united, and we firmly believe that by solidarity we will beat the virus and win the battle.’